Elections 2019 | What the top political parties promise on LGBTIQ rights

With national elections taking place on 8 May this year, few of us can claim that we know the complete policies of the leading political parties, especially when it comes to what they’re promising the LGBTIQ+ community.

To help you be better informed and cast your ‘pink vote’ wisely, here’s what the election manifestos of five of the top political parties in South Africa say about LGBTIQ+ equality.

1. The African National Congress

The leader of the governing party, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has long been hailed as a valuable ally to the country’s LGBTIQ+ community. When Ramaphosa took the reigns from his predecessor Jacob Zuma last year, LGBTIQ rights groups celebrated.

In its 2019 election manifesto, the ANC reiterated that it has “a proud history of championing the cause for gender equality, the rights of people with disability and the LGBTIQ community”.

Historically, members of the party championed the sexual orientation equality clause in the Constitution and the ANC oversaw major changes to the law to ensure our rights are protected. It has, however, often been criticised for failing to implement them in government, especially in the justice system, in government departments and services and in its international policies. Compared to the opposition, few ANC officials or MPS are openly LGBTIQ.

In the manifesto, the party promises to:

– Introduce laws to combat hate crimes against people based on their race, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation or albinism, and to

– Finalise the proposed legislation before parliament aimed at preventing and combating hate crimes and prosecution of persons who commit those offences. The legislation will deal with hate crimes against persons based on their race, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation or albinism.

2. The Democratic Alliance

The official opposition’s Constitution sets out the DA’s values, and summarises these in four words: freedom, fairness, opportunity and diversity. In terms of its standpoint regarding LGBTIQ rights, party members are held to strict standards of conduct, and can be found guilty of misconduct if it becomes apparent that they have discriminated against someone, based on their sexual orientation.

In 2014, the DA elected the first openly gay black member of parliament, Zakhele Mbhele, and a good number of MPs, representatives and activists in the DA are also openly LGBTIQ.

In their Manifesto for Change, the DA has the following to say about LGBTIQ rights.

“Ultimately, it is our foundational belief that no South African – regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or any other marker – should have their life chances determined by the circumstances of their birth.”

The party outlines its plans to protect the community in its manifesto:

“Combat discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community and promote the community’s rights by:

• Creating safe and non-discriminative environments and ensuring government makes opportunities for dialogues on identities and sexuality.
• Providing LGBTIQ+ sensitisation training in government services, schools and communities.
• Enforce a more strident stance on corrective rape and LGBTIQ+ related hate crimes by viewing these as aggravating circumstances when considering sentencing.
• Promoting the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people in Africa and around the world.
• Implementing specific education programmes to tackle bullying and harassment in schools as LGBTIQ+ youth are not adequately protected by anti-bullying initiatives.
• Ending the discriminatory treatment of LGBTIQ+ families in adoptions and protect LGBTIQ+ elders against discrimination.”

3. The Economic Freedom Fighters

In the past, the EFF has come out strongly against discriminatory legislation, both locally and elsewhere. In 2013, the party spoke out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill adopted in Uganda, and the EFF also rallies against gender-based violence as it pertains to corrective rape, saying in 2015:

“Black people in this country are oppressed on many levels: they are landless, poor, unemployed and are constantly discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and identity. At the centre of this sexual violence is the plight of lesbian women who continue to be raped to ‘correct’ their sexuality.”

The EFF’s official 2019 election manifesto makes its position on LGBTIQ rights clear.

1. The EFF government will aggressively engage in public awareness and communication strategies and training interventions all aimed at or directed towards positively changing social norms which declare LGBTQI sexual preferences as abnormal.
2. The EFF government will amend the Criminal Law Amendment Act and existing legislation to include harsher minimum sentences for ‘corrective’ rape specifically, or crimes committed with hatred as motivation in general.
3. The EFF government will also amend the Sex Description
4. Act and related legislation to ensure the Home Affairs Department expedites ID alteration applications for transgender applicants.
5. The EFF government will invest in a public health care system that ensures easy access to gender-affirming treatment.
6. The EFF government will decisively enforce the Equality Act and related legislation to end unfair discrimination by government and private organisations in relation to the employment of women and the LGBTQI community.
7. The EFF government will amend the Facilities Regulations Act and related regulations to enable the implementation of gender-neutral toilet facilities in
schools, public facilities and workplaces to benefit transgender populations and people outside of the gender binary.
8. The EFF government will amend the Child Care Act and related legislation to impose penalties for unfair discrimination against LGBTQI individuals in relation to adoption processes.

4. The Inkatha Freedom Party

The IFP, led by veteran politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi, was one of the political parties that opposed the Civil Unions Bill when it was put before parliament in 2006. Then-party spokesperson Inka Mars said of the bill, “The IFP has always advocated strong family principles and we are ultimately guided by strong moral values. We feel that there were several other options in relation to this issue that Parliament did not explore properly.”

“Therefore, we reject any notion of same-sex unions or marriages and we oppose this Bill.”

12 years after same-sex marriage became legal, another bill was brought before parliament last year, repealing Section 6 of the Civil Union Act, and preventing civil servants from refusing to officiate over same-sex marriages on the grounds of conscience, religion or belief.

Although the bill was passed, the new legislation will take two years to come into effect, and in a turn from the party’s former position about marriage equality, the IFP, together with the DA, opposed the time it would take for the bill to become law.

The IFP does not take a clear stance against LGBTIQ discrimination in its 2019 election manifesto, although it does undertake to take action against gender-based violence and discrimination.

5. The Congress of the People

Although it isn’t one of the biggest political parties in South Africa, COPE deserves a mention.
Before he became the leader of the Congress of the People, Mosiuoa Lekota served as Minister of Defence, and just before the historic 2006 vote in parliament which would make same-sex marriage legal, Lekota made a heartfelt plea to MPs to support the rights of same-sex couples, saying:

“We are bound to fulfill the promises of democracy which we made to the people of our country. Are we going to suppress this so-called minority, or are we going to let these people enjoy the privilege of choosing who will be their life partners?

Lekota made the principles of equality part and parcel of COPE when he founded the party, and last year it was COPE MP, Deidre Carter, who lodged the Civil Union Amendment Bill that ultimately led to the repeal of Section 6 of the Civil Union Act.

In its election manifesto, COPE undertakes to see to the safety of youth, women and vulnerable groups, stating,

A COPE government will ensure that:

– The LGBTIQ community is supported to realise their constitutional rights.

Conversion therapy triples LGBT youth suicide attempts

The American study from the Family Acceptance Project is the first to look at the role and impact of parents and others in so-called ‘conversion therapy’ efforts to change LGBT adolescents’ sexual orientation.

The research, which was published in the Journal of Homosexuality, found that both home-based parent and external sexual orientation conversion interventions contribute to multiple health and adjustment problems in young adulthood.

These include higher levels of depression and suicidal behavior, as well as lower levels of self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction, and lower levels of education and income in young adulthood, compared with LGBT young people who did not experience conversion efforts.

Alarmingly, the researchers found that rates of attempted suicide by LGBT young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation were more than double (48%) the rate of LGBT young adults who reported no conversion experiences (22%).

Suicide attempts nearly tripled for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and intervention efforts by therapists and religious leaders (63%).

The costs of conversion therapy

In addition, levels of depression more than doubled (33%) for LGBT young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation compared with those who reported no conversion experiences (16%). It more than tripled (52%) for LGBT young people who experienced both home-based and external conversion therapy.

Sexual orientation change experiences during adolescence were also associated with lower young adult socioeconomic status: less educational attainment and lower weekly income.

“Although parents and religious leaders who try to change a child’s LGBT identity may be motivated by attempts to ‘protect’ their children, these rejecting behaviors instead undermine an LGBT child’s sense of self-worth, contribute to self-destructive behaviors that significantly increase risk and inhibit self-care which includes constricting their ability to make a living,” said Dr. Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University and lead author.

“It is clear that there are public health costs of ‘change’ efforts for LGBT adolescents over the long-term. The kind of change we really need is family education and intervention,” added study co-author, Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D., Regents Professor, University of Texas at Austin.

Earlier this year, the Williams Institute estimated that around 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the US have received conversion therapy at some point in their lives, including about 350,000 who received it as adolescents.

The World Psychiatric Association and many other mental health bodies have asserted that trying to “cure” LGBTQ people doesn’t work and is both dangerous and unethical. The UK government has announced its plans to ban conversion therapy. In April, the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) reaffirmed its condemnation of conversion therapy.

PRESS RELEASE: KZNPride, Durban 23 October 2018

PRESS RELEASE: KZNPride, Durban

This is to inform all of the establishment of a new Pride organisation called KZNPride that was established at a Special General Meeting in Pietermaritzburg on the 23 October 2018.

The vision of KZNPride is to strive to be a representative body of the LGBTI+ community of KwaZulu-Natal. We also seek to standardize Pride of KZN by supporting annual PrideFest events throughout the KwaZulu-Natal region.

The mission of KZNPride is to provide a safe, supportive environment.  The KZNPride LGBTQ+ strive to provide services, professional resources and programs that unite the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning community across lines of age, race, gender, and economics. Our purpose is to strengthen, support, and celebrate LGBTQ+ individuals, families, and groups in their efforts to achieve their fullest potential.

KZNPride strives for positive social change through advocacy, community education, cultural awareness and wellness programs that assist in the creation, development and growth of LGBTQ+ affirming organizations, institutions and cultures within the community at large.

KZNPride is registered as a Non-Profit Company (NPC) Registration number: 20184397750. It forms a supporting umbrella in KwaZulu-Natal to promote a totally inclusive Pride that stands against discrimination and violence towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI+) people. We seek to affirm those of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression by increasing visibility of LGBTI people within our communities, by building partnerships and collaborations that celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. We support and promote initiatives targeting the KZN LGBTI community that include:

  • General events, such as entertainment & nightlife within the KZN area.
  • Monthly support and social groups especially targeted at Gay, Lesbian and Transgender persons. Free or affordable counselling for bullied and transgender individuals.
  • Promote general awareness of LGBTI issues around KZN
  • Provide resources within the KZN Region.
  • Encourage networking between LGBTI groups and LGBTI allies
  • Addressing and awareness of bulling in schools.

The founding members hereby calls on LGBTI organisations in KZN to join KZN Pride. For more information on how to join, please contact Ezra Steenkamp at info@kznpride.org or visit www.kznpride.org

There will be an official launch of KZNPride in 2019 and more announcements will be made in due course.

The founding members of KZNPride are:

  1. Anthony Waldhausen, director of the Gay and Lesbian Network
  2. Kim Lithgow, director of Same Love Toti
  3. Ezra Steenkamp, businessperson from Durban